Noblesse oblige? Social status and economic inequality maintenance among politicians

Michael W. Kraus, Bennett Callaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Economic inequality is at historically high levels in the United States and is among the most pressing issues facing society. And yet, predicting the behavior of politicians with respect to their support of economic inequality remains a significant challenge. Given that high status individuals tend to conceive of the current structure of society as fair and just, we expected that high status members of the U.S. House of Representatives would be more likely to support economic inequality in their legislative behavior than would their low status counterparts. Results supported this prediction particularly among Democratic members of Congress: Whereas Republicans tended to support legislation increasing economic inequality regardless of their social status, the social status of Democrats - measured in terms of average wealth, race, or gender - was a significant predictor of support for economic inequality. Policy implications of the observed relationship between social status and support for economic inequality are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere85293
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 21 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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